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News Cast for July 2nd:

In case you haven’t noticed, gas prices in Okeechobee County and around most of Florida and the country have gone down considerably in the last several weeks. Gas at some stations costs less than two dollars and seventy cents per gallon whereas earlier this spring, as recently as Memorial Day it was close to three dollars per gallon. AAA Spokesperson Josh Carrasco says the reason for that is oil prices have been going down in oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia, causing the drop in gas prices. Carrasco says it’s also due to a major increase in oil rig counts domestically. Carrasco says gas prices have gone down at least ten cents per gallon. That may change however as we roll into the Independence Day holiday.

Carrasco-Falling Gas Prices 1

Carrasco-Falling Gas Prices 2

A status hearing was held Thursday in an Okeechobee County courtroom for a Portland, Maine man recently on trial for murder. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says a status hearing was held for 42 year old Michael Lawrence Woodbury to determine if everything is set for his sentencing hearing later this month. Albright says the hearing could take at least a week. Woodbury, already serving three life sentences for murders he was convicted of committing ten years ago in New Hampshire, was tried last May for the murder of his cellmate, Antoneeze Haynes of Broward County, at Okeechobee Correctional Institute last September. He represented himself during the four day trial and entered a guilty plea on the last day of the trial. His sentencing hearing is set for July 23rd.

Status Hearing Results-Woodbury 1

Status Hearing Results-Woodbury 2

That was not the only one; a status hearing for23 year old Christopher William Shows of Okeechobee was also held Thursday. Shows is charged with illegally entering the home of 25 year old Amanda Gayle Suarez and shooting and killing her with a shot from a .22 caliber rifle before attempting to have sex with her corpse in December of 2016. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says it’s not uncommon for a hearing on this kind of case to take a while to happen after the crime was committed, specifically in a death penalty case like this. A trial is likely to begin in September or October.

Albright-Shows Hearing

Okeechobee County Commissioners last week approved an agreement with Lakeland-based Straughn Trout Architects, LLC to begin designs of a new building that will house the property appraiser, tax collector and driver’s license services. Facility Maintenance and Development Director Donnie Oden says the funding for the $244 thousand dollar project will come from the county’s capital improvements fund. Oden says the project will begin once a contract is signed and it will take about four to six months to complete the designs and another 270 days to construct the building.

Oden-PATCDL Building 1

An Okeechobee woman led sheriff’s deputies on a brief chase before she was finally caught Thursday night. Deputies were trying to stop a Toyota sedan, driven by 22 year old Cornelia Denise Ash for failing to stop at a stop sign on the 15 hundred block of NE 5th Street just before 10:30pm. Ash didn’t stop after deputies turned on the overhead lights and continued to follow Ash’s car, as she continued to ignore stop signs for about a half mile before she finally stopped on the one thousand block of NE 13th Avenue. Deputies ordered Ash out of the car and she was handcuffed. Deputies say there was a strong smell of marijuana in the car. Ash was booked in county jail on charges of fleeing and eluding law enforcement and failing to stop at a stop sign. She was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

An Immokalee man is in serious condition after a vehicle accident Thursday night. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 43 year old Jude Bien Aime was driving a Saturn Vue minivan when he stopped at the intersection of Heritage Bay Boulevard and Immokalee Road in Collier County just after 9:30. As he was trying to make a left turn, his car was hit on the left side by an oncoming car, propelling it into a center median curb. Bien Aime was taken to North Collier Hospital for treatment. The other driver received minor injuries.

On the arrest report:

36 year old Justin W. Albritton of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.